Report: Au Train Falls, Michigan

Au Train Falls, Hiawatha National Forest, Alger County, Michigan

This was a different kind of waterfall.  No huge drop-off. I believe the rock is limestone, but am not sure.  It is layered, though, and produced a unique affect.  It’s wide and shallow.  I donned my Muck Boots, waded out, set up my tripod in the middle of the stream, and shot away.  I had to be careful with my footing, but it really wasn’t all that treacherous.

These shots were done in autumn, as you can tell by the leaves on the ground and in the stream bed.  Maybe it’s just me, but I find waterfalls to almost always be more interesting in autumn precisely because of the added color.

Au Train Falls, in the Hiawatha National Forest between Munising and Chatham, has many interesting features, from the natural layout to the man made aspects that almost completely ruin the whole thing.  Personally, I find them inordinately difficult to shoot.  What appears pleasing to the eye isn’t necessarily so in the viewfinder.  Access to the lower falls is easy.  There’s a short road off M-94, and a short walk beyond a gate, and you’re there.  There are man made features such as pipes and buildings that often get in the shot.  There is a lot of “isolating” to get a good shot.  But, when you do get a good shot, it’s a winner!


Sitting under a rock

Chapel Falls with autumn leaves, Section Creek, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Alger County, Michigan

I sat under a rock outcropping for over two hours to get this photo.  Not just this one, of course, I got several very nice shots.  I sat… I played with settings… I experimented… I zoom in… I zoomed out… I used fast shutter speeds to freeze the water… I used slow shutter speeds to get a silky smooth look… I used in-between shutter speeds to get an in-between look (like this one you see here).  I had the roar of the falls in my ears for all that time.  It was like being in a special room with other people around me but also being unable to hear them and having an almost unattached feeling.  And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I think this waterfall, one of my absolute favorites, will get a “report” sometime soon.  I still have another report to do from our trip this past October, too.

In an administrative note, today I have added an email subscription form.  If you desire to get email notification of new posts, please feel free to add your name and email address in the form area at the upper right of this page.  As a devoted privacy advocate I will never share or sell your information.

Oh, and I got wet, too.

There She Is!

Missy and Ken

As most people know, I lean just slightly to the introverted side.  Oh, who am I kidding, I am a screaming introvert.  I like to be in the background and incognito.  As such, I am rarely willing to post photos of myself.  It’s something I am not comfortable with, and I now understand why my mother always wanted to be on the back end of the camera and never the front end.  Having said that, here I am, in all my casual glory, and not just me, but my wonderful wife, Missy, too.

Missy is my greatest encourager.  My greatest cheerleader.  My greatest motivator.  She’s always by my side and is the perfect road trip companion.  In short, she’s my buddy!

This shot was taken this past October on our 2016 Fall Color Tour of Michigan.  We are at the east end of Miner’s Beach in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Munising, Michigan.  I came back to this site after having visited it in 2008.  It has changed dramatically.  The beach that was there was pretty much gone this time, and the small waterfall in the background was now inaccessible.

This ties into a photo lesson I learned long ago:  Never pass up an opportunity thinking conditions will always be the same.  Too often, it is not.  Take your shot now.  I have some shots of this waterfall from 2008 that I will post soon.

Report: Yellow Dog Falls

Yellow Dog Falls, Yellow Dog River, near Big Bay, Marquette County, Michigan
Yellow Dog Falls, Yellow Dog River, near Big Bay, Marquette County, Michigan

With this post I will begin a new feature for my blog, the “Report”, where I will give a little more information than just some random musings.  For example, I have three photos today, all of Yellow Dog Falls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula… or UP.  This one takes a bit of getting to.  Most directions that you will find on the internet make it sound absurdly easy, but it’s not quite so.  Now, Missy and I are both out-of-shape, I’ll admit that, and it’s not too hard, but there is more to it than one would think.  I will give some directions here, so hopefully that will help.  I can say that the locals had nothing but good things to say regarding this location, and I now know why.

Yellow Dog Falls, Yellow Dog River, near Big Bay, Marquette County, Michigan
Yellow Dog Falls, Yellow Dog River, near Big Bay, Marquette County, Michigan

Directions:  Leave Marquette heading toward Big Bay on Big Bay Road, aka County Road (CR) 550.  You will go approximately 21-ish miles then turn left on CR 510.  Go approximately 2 miles to what is described as a fork in the road, but is really a ‘tee’ intersection.  CR AAA veers off to the right and is a nice paved road.  CR 510 takes a sharp left and immediately becomes a decent dirt road under a tree canopy.  Continue down CR 510 for approximately 6.5 miles, to the second river crossing.  This is Yellow Dog River.  There are no signs.  The river looks more like a creek, and you will be at the only guard rails on the road as the road crosses over the river.

Park on the south side of the crossing, on the east side of the road.  The trail begins here.  The trail is approximately 0.7 miles long, but is not always intuitive.  Again, there are no signs or markers, but it is relatively well-traveled and reasonably obvious.  The trail has some fallen trees crossing it, and crosses four streams.  Someone had laid branches across the streams, which helps, though they were only trickles when we hiked.  Just when you begin to wonder if you’re lost you hear the roar of the falls and you’re there.

Yellow Dog Falls, Yellow Dog River, near Big Bay, Marquette County, Michigan
Yellow Dog Falls, Yellow Dog River, near Big Bay, Marquette County, Michigan

And what a “there” it is!  That little creek we saw at the road produces these magnificent waterfall?  Well worth the drive and the hike.  The journey is just enough to keep most people away, but not so difficult as to discourage those who want to see it bad enough.  We had the fortune of being the only people there for a couple hours, which helps my composition immensely.  I was able to “work” the falls for over three hours.  It was quite peaceful and serene.

As a general rule, I prefer the blurred water shots in a waterfall.  I’m not a big fan of “frozen” shots, though I took many of each.  I give three different perspectives here.  The first shot is about half the falls, and is probably my favorite of the three and it gives a nice balance of the waterfall and the fall colors.  The second shot isolates a small area that appealed to me.  The last shot is an overall view done with my fisheye lens, that I think gives a nice perspective.

Fall Colors: Anticipation

Chapel Falls, Section Creek, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
Chapel Falls, Section Creek, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

I sat under a rock ledge next to this waterfall for over two hours… switching lenses, changes angles, shooting wide-angle compositions, zooming and zeroing in on close-up aspects.  I toyed with shorter exposures to “freeze” the water, and I played with longer exposures to get a “smooth and silky” feel.  This was somewhere in between.  Oh, and sometimes I just sat there and relished the scene.  That may sounds boring to some, but I had a ball.  I loved every minute of it!

I took this in October, 2008… wow, eight years ago!… and I brought this photo back because Missy and I are planning a “photo road trip” along Michigan’s main peninsula’s northwest coast and back through the Upper Peninsula (UP) later this year.  We are both very excited in anticipation for this trip and have a great many things planned.  This will be a combination of new territory for both of us, and some old familiar places.